Green Bay Country Club might be the most underrated golf course in the state of Wisconsin. In fact, it might be the best private club in the state and to me is for sure the best modern private course.
I racked my head over and over, for days before starting this review, trying to reason with myself about how I felt:
It needs to be in the mix, even if it’s not officially reviewed often enough for consideration by “the big publications.”
The land Green Bay Country Club was developed on is probably the most dramatic golf landscape. It’s every bit as rousing as the layouts at Blackwolf Run, Pine Hills, West Bend, the Irish course at Whistling Straits, Sand Valley or Mammoth Dunes, and the Dick Nugent design works with that terrain as masterfully as any.
From the very first tee at Green Bay CC, players’ heads are consumed with thoughts. There’s nary a shot where doubt doesn’t creep in to their mind, whether it’s “Don’t go left… or right” on the first hole – or “Don’t go too far… or short” – this is a tremendously challenging golf course that will test players’ mettle.
Green Bay could host tournaments. Certainly state championships, but I’m talking bigger, too. It’s 7097 yards can stretch out even the best players, and it features plenty of target opportunities that require precision.
The course plays long, including from the blue tees – there was a lot of wind, but I found myself hitting a ton of hybrids and 5-irons in on par threes and fours. Even those usually came up short. This is not a driver-wedge course.
If you were to ask 25 members at GBCC what they think the signature hole is, I bet you’d get at least 8 different responses. I think you could make a case for all of these, and probably others:
- The par 4 1st hole – name me a better opening hole in the state
- The 634-yard par five 6th, one of the longest holes in Wisconsin
- The dogleg right, ridiculously downhill par 4 7th
- The island green par 3 8th
- The beautiful and challenging, twice dissected by water par 4 9th
- The insanely elevated tee shot on the par five 10th – WOW
- The scenic and long downhill par 4 14th
- The triple-fairway, semi-circular par 5 17th
- The downhill , water-surrounded par 4 18th finishing hole set in front of their awesome clubhouse on the hill
For me, I love the 17th. There are two great opportunities to swing away, or a ton to play strategically and hit a spot. And the green surrounds, tucked in a corner with a wide and narrow green above the creek, is absolutely beautiful.
The first par three on the course, the fourth is a challenging, slightly downhill one-shotter with trouble everywhere.
The tee boxes on the right side of five require a shot through or over a chute of trees to a fairway that runs left-to-right.
Tipping out at 634 yards, the par five 6th is one of the longest holes in the state. If you’ve been dreaming of an opportunity to hit your 3-wood (at least once), this should be it!
The seventh has one of the most severe changes in elevation on the course, playing left-to-right and significantly downhill.
This hole reminds me a bit of the 11th at West Bend Country Club.
The eighth is a tricky downhill par three to an island green. Aptly nicknamed “Rock Island,” the green complex presents a massive target but, at least during our round, had wind swirling all around.
Maybe the most challenging hole on the entire course, the par four 9th is a long par four with two forced carries. Regardless of the tee shot, the approach here is going to be really long, and will have to successfully navigate all kinds of trouble.
Green Bay Country Club is chocked full of “Ah-ha” moments. After we finished the front nine, I turned to my buddy Jeff and said, “That was unbelievable. It can’t get any better than that.”
Just look at the tee shot on the par five tenth hole.
Somehow, the back nine is even more dramatic and impressive than the front. We didn’t even think it was possible, but there it was.
The eleventh is another beautiful golf hole – a mid-to-long-range par three over water.
They call the 14th the “Chamber of Commerce Hole,” with all of Green Bay, Wisconsin on full display, including Lambeau Field on the horizon:
The 16th is another long par four, with another challenging approach shot that carries water.
The 17th hole at Green Bay Country Club is absolutely magnificent. With two forced carries, this is an incredibly challenging par five.
The hole does a near 180 from right-to-left – hit the right side of the initial driving area and then stay way right on the second fairway to leave a comfortable shot in.
What can you say about 18 at Green Bay? Like the rest of the course, it’s dramatic, challenging and requires solid golf shots.
Green Bay Country Club is a spectacular golf course that belongs in the discussion of the state’s best private country clubs. How high should it be, though?
In terms of layout and aesthetics, course conditions and playability, it’s for sure in the top five. To me, the constant “wow” moments even elevate it in to the top three.
That’s where it’s hard to compare a course built in the 1990’s to classic courses from the 1920’s and ’30’s, though.
Modern and classic courses are very different, and it gives credence to the way some “Experts” separate the two.
The tools used to move and shape the land, the knowledge base available and technology to maintain more advanced architecture these days are all lightyears ahead of anything Langford and Moreau, Raynor and Macdonald, Colt and Alison, Bendelow or others had to work with.
Some people prefer classic courses. Others prefer a more modern look and experience. Neither is right or wrong, just different.
It’s in that same vein that Green Bay, Strawberry Creek, Horseshoe Bay, Tuckaway and other more modern courses can only be compared against Milwaukee, Blue Mound, Pine Hills, Kenosha, Oneida, West Bend, North Hills, Ozaukee and other classic courses through opinion and preference. And that’s all rankings are: Personal preferences.
The only non-positive I could come up with about Green Bay is that I don’t remember much about their greens (how could I when I was so blown away by everything else?). They were recently aerated, which I think is unfair to judge against, but I only remember them being “good” and “challenging” – not like at some of those classic tracks (Blue Mound, West Bend, Pine Hills) where I’d literally stare in awe at the architecture designed in to their putting surfaces.
I remember some really nicely elevated greens (eg: 1, 3, 9, 12, 17, 18), and some sneakily extreme slopes and spines (13 and 16 come to mind). The greens on 17 and 1 were especially interesting built in to hillsides, and I’m sure they’d be all the challenge players can ask for when running at regular season speed. On a property like Green Bay – where everything else is exceptional – being able to describe the greens as “good” and “challenging” is plenty!
Their incredibly impressive golf course and conditions, excellent practice facilities, beautiful clubhouses (they have two!) and plentiful amenities, friendly and welcoming staff and membership are all top-in-class and make Green Bay Country Club one of the top 3 private clubs [that I’ve played] in Wisconsin.
Location: Green Bay, WI
Yardage: Black-7097, Blue-6697, Gold-6272
Slope/Rating: Black-141/74.2, Blue-135/71.9, Gold-131/70.3